National Inventory for Institutional Infrastructure on Community Engagement (NIIICE)

The NIIICE Tool is currently under revision to reflect updates in the Carnegie Community Engagement Elective Classification framework. Please check back here for the updated version.

The National Inventory for Institutional Infrastructure on Community Engagement (NI3CE, NIIICE) is a free institutional assessment tool to map the infrastructure of campuses and community engagement centers vis-à-vis different types of institutions that were successful in completing the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. It can typically be completed by an administrator or committee. Most questions are completed with easily available institutional and center data. Your institutional data is added to a growing national database that can be used for benchmarking and research. 

Benefits of the NI³CE

Once updated, the NI³CE tool will continue to be available to all campuses. 

Campuses are encouraged to utilize the results of NI³CE:

  • To begin strategic action planning for the institution
  • To inform program review & assessment
  • To prepare & apply for the Carnegie Classification
  • As a 5-year assessment tool to evaluate institutional infrastructure progress

The original  benchmarks come from Carnegie Classification and “best practice” from Welch & Saltmarsh (2013). Results will indicate if your institution is “in the ballpark” and if not, what needs to be done to get there.

History of the NI³CE

The publication of a study on current best practice of campus centers for community engagement (Welch & Saltmarsh, 2013) generated interest and response. Directors of campus centers began contacting the authors asking for permission to utilize the results of that study in conversations with their immediate administrative supervisors as either a tool for strategic planning or “leverage” in requesting additional resources. Given this level of interest and use, the Saltmarsh and Welch adapted the original survey used in the research project to become the first version of the National Inventory of Institutional Infrastructure of Community Engagement (NI³CE – pronounced “nice”) as an online inventory that could be used as a tool that campus centers and their institution could utilize for strategic planning. Today, nearly 170 institutions have completed the inventory, creating a rich database. The growing database that emerged allows comparisons with other institutions and a “best practice” metric based on the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement and the professional literature. Saltmarsh and Welch also recognized the potential benefit of providing the “gift of time” in a retreat setting, referred to as “institutes,” in which the results of the inventory could be reviewed and discussed in a meaningful and strategic way.

In partnership with Mathew Johnson and Georgina Manok the NI³CE was revised in 2017. Based on feedback and input gleaned from the institutes, the number of inventory items has grown from 122 items to nearly 200. The modifications include, for example, community engagement programming at the graduate level and more specificity with regard to programming such as faculty development. The response metrics have been revised to provide a more discrete and accurate levels of program and center implementation.  

Institutes and Webinars

When available, NI³CE Institutes provide a space for rich dialogue and cross-pollination of ideas. Institutes have taken place at national and regional gathering like Campus Compact and the American Democracy Project/AASCU & NASPA.

Interested institutions complete the NI³CE in advance and submit an application to participate. The application articulates the goals of the center and institution to advance community engagement on campus and in the community, as well as the challenges they are facing, rather than tout their current accomplishments. Accepted teams are limited to and require three participants: a) a campus or center coordinator of community engagement, b) their immediate administrative supervisor and c) a colleague from a related office or program. The institute is limited to a small number of teams to ensure intimacy and efficiency of interaction. The NI³CE institute is either one day or a day and a half long consisting of three parts:

  • Overview/history of the NI³CE and unpacking the data results
  • Strategic planning for participating teams
  • Report out by teams with friendly critique by colleagues and dialogue

Webinars are also available from time to time.  See one here.

Access for Researchers:

The Carnegie Elective Classification Central Office is migrating its data to the Open Science Framework (OSF). We are currently unable to process data requests and we ask that you return in the coming weeks for an update. The PPI team is committed to making our national datasets accessible to all qualified researchers in the spirit of full participation. The team is aware of the burden of data access and the costs associated with securing datasets in the higher education field that creates barriers to entry, particularly for graduate students. Hence, we work with every researcher to make sure cost is not a barrier to accessing the Carnegie CE Dataset and we particularly encourage graduate students and junior scholars to use this and other datasets we offer.

We are equally committed to protecting the identity of institutions that opted to be part of our datasets. The following process to request and gain access to data was built to ensure confidentiality and proper handling of this dataset, and the sharing of the research outcomes with the field. 

Please note the following process and policies regarding access to the 2020 Carnegie CE Dataset: 

  • Complete this data request form to provide us with more information about your research and what data you are looking for.
  • After you have submitted this form, a member of the research team will get in touch with you with any questions or clarifications regarding your request.
  • Institutions agree to share their data with Albion College with the explicit understanding that their identity will be kept confidential. Thus, any researcher who requests access to the Carnegie CE dataset must sign a data-sharing agreement indicating that the identities of any institutions in the dataset will not be disclosed, including any details that would allow someone to deduce any institution(s).
  • Researchers are expected to obtain the necessary approvals (IRB or otherwise) required by your institution, disciplinary organization, and/or ethics boards to conduct your research.
  • Please note, Albion College currently only provides access to the 2020 Carnegie CE dataset(s).
  • We ask that researchers provide information regarding the dissemination of research (conference presentations or posters, invited talks, proceedings, or publications) so that it can be listed on our website and shared with colleagues in the field.

If you have any questions, please contact